ONE OF OUR CONQUERORS (1912) - George Meredith
Gilded letters on cover and spine.
Very good condition.
ONE OF OUR CONQUERORS
Author: GEORGE MEREDITH
Publisher: CONSTABLE & COMPANY LTD LONDON
Publication Year: 1912
Dimensions: 16,5 X 11,5
George Meredith OM (12 February 1828 – 18 May 1909) was an English novelist and poet of the Victorian era. At first his focus was poetry, influenced by John Keats among others, but he gradually established a reputation as a novelist. The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) briefly scandalized Victorian literary circles. Of his later novels, the most enduring is The Egoist (1879), though in his lifetime his greatest success was Diana of the Crossways (1885). His novels were innovative in their attention to characters' psychology, and also took a close interest in social change. His style, in both poetry and prose, was noted for its syntactic complexity; Oscar Wilde likened it to "chaos illumined by brilliant flashes of lightning". He was an encourager of other novelists, as well as an influence on them; among those to benefit were Robert Louis Stevenson and George Gissing. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature seven times.
Meredith supplemented his often uncertain writer's income with a job as a publisher's reader. His advice to Chapman & Hall made him influential in the world of letters, and he was capable of reading as many as ten manuscripts a week, though his judgement was not always reliable; Ellen Wood's novel East Lynne was rejected by Chapman & Hall on his say-so yet went on, when published by Richard Bentley, to be a bestseller.
His friends in the literary world included, at different times, William and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Cotter Morison, Leslie Stephen, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Gissing and J. M. Barrie.
Gissing wrote in a letter to his brother Algernon that Meredith's novels were "of the superlatively tough species". His contemporary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle paid tribute to him in the short story "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", in which Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson, during the discussion of the case, "And now let us talk about George Meredith, if you please, and we shall leave all minor matters until to-morrow." Oscar Wilde in "The Art of Novel-Writing" reflected, "Ah, Meredith! Who can define him? ... As a writer he has mastered everything, except language ... Too strange to be popular, too individual to have imitators, ... [he] stands absolutely alone."
In 1868 Meredith was introduced to Thomas Hardy by Frederic Chapman of Chapman & Hall. Hardy had submitted his first novel, The Poor Man and the Lady. Meredith advised Hardy not to publish his book as it would be attacked by reviewers and destroy his hopes of becoming a novelist. Meredith felt the book was too bitter a satire on the rich, and counselled Hardy to put it aside and write another "with a purely artistic purpose" and more of a plot. Meredith spoke from experience; his own first big novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, was judged so shocking that Mudie's circulating library had cancelled an order of 300 copies. Hardy continued in his attempts to publish the novel, without success, though he clearly took Meredith's advice seriously.
His books were translated into Japanese and influenced authors like Natsume Sōseki.
Meredith's style has attracted a great deal of comment, both favourable and disapproving.
His novels, far from being action-packed, are instead driven by what he called "action of the mind", and the large amounts of dialogue have led to their being dismissed as "talky". Critic Neil Roberts describes "the often irritating but profoundly original world of Meredith's novelistic art", noting that these are two sides of "the sense of the new" in his work and that this is "still felt by readers encountering Meredith today". Roberts argues that Meredith's use of dialogue and multiple voices make him "a Bakhtinian novelist par excellence".
His prose, aphoristic and allusive, has often been seen as a barrier to comprehension, with some critics arguing that the style, rather than being a means to an end, serves as an end in itself. Oscar Wilde's description of "chaos illumined by brilliant flashes of lightning" has been echoed by many others. A recurring objection is the mental effort required to decipher his meaning. "Readers," writes Vanessa L. Ryan, "complained that Meredith made too constant an appeal to thoughtfulness ... [and] charged his writing with too many ideas and mental abstractions."
However, admirers since George Eliot have applauded the poetic qualities of Meredith's prose. For Max Beerbohm, he "packs tight all his pages with wit, philosophy, poetry, and psychological analysis". Yet even an enthusiast as fervent as Beerbohm can concede that "His obscurity, like that of Carlyle and Browning, is due less to extreme subtlety than to the plethoric abundance of his ideas".
In a thesis published in Meredith's lifetime, Leah Durand Jones commented that his style is "generally conceded to be more subtle and abstruse, more complex and intricate than that of any other modern writer": he "usually avoids the conventional", achieves "independence of thought and expression" through the "brilliancy of his epigrams", finds "analogies in the most unexpected places", and possesses a "power of compression" which can disconcert readers, not least through a "constant omission of pronouns, relatives, or even nouns and verbs" that demands "swiftness of comprehension".
He wrote "One Of Our Conquerors" in 1891.